“I’m not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate decided by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate, not prepared to have that record decided by that jury.” Senator Arlen Specter (DEMOCRAT-PA)Arlen Specter officially jumped ship Tuesday and joined the Democrat Party. This is a man who depended on the money, organizational efforts and votes of Pennsylvania Republicans for nearly 30 years in the U.S. Senate. Tuesday, he turned his back on the people who made his Senate career possible.
It was little more than a month ago on March 17 when Specter insisted he would not switch parties because of the "very important principle" of maintaining a two party system with checks and balances instead of the one party state Democrats have been planning.
And let's not forget that in 2001 Specter proposed changing the Senate rules to diminish the impact of Senators switching party mid-session:
"When I first ran in 1980, Congressman Bud Shuster sponsored a fundraiser for me in Altoona where Congressman Jack Kemp was the principal speaker. When some questions were raised as to my political philosophy, Congressman Shuster said my most important vote would be the organizational vote. From that day to this, I have believed that the organizational vote belonged to the party which supported my election."In other words, you leave the dance with the one who brought you.
But when it became clear that Specter would lose the Republican primary for his seat in 2010 all those years of principle went out the window. Thus making him a natural member of the Democrat party who have long believed in only one principle: the acquisition and maintaining of power.
Energizing Northeast Conservatives?
Pennsylvania conservatives were already energized by the defection of Arlen Specter on the stimulus bill. Now the battle lines for the 2010 Senate election are clearly drawn between Specter and, most likely, former Congressman Pat Toomey; who almost beat Specter in the 2004 GOP primary. Will Democrats be more energized to come out and vote for a man many of them have been voting against all these years? Or will conservatives, who finally have a candidate they can believe in come out in greater numbers?
There have been a raft of loses of moderate Republicans in the northeast the past few election cycles because conservatives in those states have sat on their hands rather than support someone who behaves like a Democrat-lite. There's hope that given a strong candidate they can feel excited about will re-energize Northeast conservatives and show that the GOP is not becoming a regional party.
After all, standing up for principles is always a winning idea!